There’s No Need for A Citizenship Question in the Next Census

The announcement last week by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross that the 2020 Census will agree to the Justice Department’s request and add a question about citizenship is wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to track them all.  The Constitutionally-mandated responsibility of the decennial census is to count all residents, regardless of citizenship, and actions that would interfere with doing that as thoroughly as possible undercut that grave responsibility. 

A question about citizenship would discourage participation in the Census and lead to systematic undercounting of residents and an incomplete, biased picture of who lives in the United States. The consequences of such an undercount would be dire, skewing political representation and the allocation of federal funds. The undercount would affect immigrant communities of color in particular. For example, as the First Focus Campaign for Children put it, “For Hispanic children, the problem of being undercounted is exacerbated by a recent decision from the Department of Commerce to add a question on citizenship in the 2020 census. Coupling this announcement with aggressive and cruel immigration enforcement tactics currently being undertaken by the Trump administration, the expectation becomes a dramatically reduced participation rate from immigrant and mixed status families who fear the negative repercussions of revealing their immigration status.”

Advocates for an accurate, complete, and fair Census are used to raising their voices to push for more resources to be devoted to outreach, not to warding off bad, inflammatory proposals. But in reacting swiftly to this misguided and cynical step, they have the facts, the Constitution, and the nonpartisan importance of unbiased data on their side. There is no need for a citizenship question in the decadal Census to enforce the Voting Rights Act, as the Justice Department has claimed. There is great risk in adding an untested question at this late stage, jeopardizing years of preparation. We support the lawsuits being filed by several states and other parties and the movement to push Congress to reverse this plan. 

For further information about these efforts, see the following sources:

 

Advancing Economic Inclusion in Southern Cities


In 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in partnership with PolicyLink, launched Southern Cities for Economic Inclusion, a cohort of seven cities dedicated to advancing economic equity for low-income communities and communities of color. Comprised of city officials and staff, local philanthropy, and business and community partners from Atlanta, Asheville, Charlotte, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans and Richmond, the group convenes regularly to share best practices and learn from experts. Their next meeting will be in Richmond from October 23-25.

This group explicitly identifies and addresses the unique historical, political, and legal obstacles to achieving economic inclusion in the South; namely, the region’s deeply entrenched legacy of racism and segregation, as well as the structural limitations imposed by state laws that strip cities of the authority to advance economic inclusion policies such as local hiring or inclusive procurement.

Leaders from the seven cities are advancing real solutions by:

  • Establishing an economic agenda that both acknowledges and confronts the legacy of race. City and community leaders in New Orleans and Atlanta have created economic opportunity plans that set a proactive agenda to invest in people of color and others who have been left behind and demonstrate how equity will lead to everyone being better off.  
     
  • Bringing together diverse stakeholders to advance an economic inclusion agenda. In Memphis, Nashville, and elsewhere, anchor institutions such as universities and medical facilities, along with business and other leaders in the private sector, are coming together with city partners to encourage growth in the minority business community and bring new investments into communities without causing displacement. 
     
  • Innovating policies and programs to support minority-owned businesses and connect people to jobs. In Charlotte, Richmond, and Asheville, cities have developed pilot procurement programs and incentives to support minority businesses and to help connect individuals with barriers to employment to good jobs.
     

These projects and initiatives are changing the cultural silence on race in economic development policy and strengthening local positions despite state restrictions on local authority. We applaud these city leaders for their work thus far.  Reaching this point has required creativity in policy design, political deftness, and most of all, resilience.  However, advancing this work will require additional investment and strong partnerships across a wide range of stakeholders, including local and national philanthropy, the private sector, and community-based organizations. We hope you will join us to advance an economically inclusive and prosperous South.

We Are All Dreamers

Turning our backs on young Americans who arrived in this country with family or other adults seeking a better life is morally reprehensible. The Trump Administration’s decision to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program places over 800,000 young people at risk of deportation and separation from their loved ones and reneges on a promise made to those young people by our government.

Yesterday’s action underscores the Administration's pursuit of normalizing racist and xenophobic beliefs through an agenda rooted in the criminalization of people of color. Igniting polarization by race and ethnicity and scapegoating our immigrant brothers and sisters threatens the culture, economy, and security of our nation. Again, we must stand up for the latest target of this hate-filled Administration whose efforts to splinter the nation for the benefit of a cruel minority have no end. We are all DACA children.  

Ending DACA is morally wrong and economically foolish.  For years, PolicyLink has argued that Equity is a moral imperative and the Superior Growth Model.  The diversity of this country is critical to its economic growth and prosperity.  The actions against DACA will negatively impact the economy in ways underscored by recent studies revealing a loss of billions from the national GDP over the next decade and the loss of contributions from thousands of valuable workers and entrepreneurs.   

Young people covered by the DACA program must be protected and the nation’s promise honored.  Now more than ever, we need Congress to act quickly and confirm that Americans of every race and creed are valued, that our government keeps its promises and rejects hate and xenophobia, and that the U.S. is a place that welcomes all who come sharing a democratic vision and valuing freedom, justice, and equity for all.   

Here are a few things you can do to demonstrate your support:  

  1. Call your members of Congress and demand their support for the Dream Act. And, with DACA ending, it's time for Congress to pass a clean version of the bipartisan Dream Act. Use dreamacttoolkit.org to call and urge your member of Congress to stand up for Dreamers.  
  2. Attend a rally: You can locate rallies in your area using Resistance Near Me.   
  3. Show your support online: Raise your voice to support the #DreamAct by tweeting and posting your support for young immigrants. Make it clear that they are #HereToStay. Find sample tweets & hashtags below.

Sample Tweets:

  • Trump decision on #DACA is morally wrong & economically unwise. Congress must stand up 4 young immigrants & America. Protect immigrants now!
     
  • Will Congress pass the Dream Act, which creates a path to citizenship for Dreamers, without using their loved ones as bargaining chips? 1/2
  • Or will they stand idly by and let the president destroy the lives and livelihoods of immigrants? #HeretoStay 2/2
     
  • 800,000+ dreamers are in our workforce. Ending DACA not only disrupts their lives but also their employers, coworkers, patients & more.
     
  • Trump's decision against Dreamers is not the end for immigrants. Congress must do right by them: pass the Dream Act. #HeretoStay
     
  • @HouseGOP @SenateGOP have a choice: side w/ 800,000+ young immigrants and protect them... or uphold Trump's hate agenda? #HeretoStay
     
  • @realDonaldTrump has stripped legal status of young immigrants who make America strong. Congress must right this wrong: pass #DreamAct!
     

White People, Show Us

Over the past several days we have watched in disgust as the progeny from our nation’s despicable past terrorized a city, committed murder, and received tacit approval from the highest level of government. White supremacy has found a home in the White House. The President is determined to perpetuate and maintain the social, political, historical, and institutional domination by White people at the expense of people of color. And in so doing, he is creating an environment that is also too toxic for White America. The White supremacy movement will not vanish until people of good will succeed in atoning for our nation’s past, reconciling, and building a bridge to a just and fair society where ALL are prospering and reaching their full potential.

America is seeing in real-time what the fight for equity looks like. When cultures, structures, and institutions are forced to change, the responses by those comfortable with and benefiting from the status quo are too frequently ugly, distressing, and violent. Equity leaders should not expect anything less. We signed up for this. Consequently, when things are at their worst, we must be at our best – body, mind, and soul. PolicyLink remains optimistic and single-minded in our work. We are standing strong in the face of formidable opposition because equity leaders, especially those on the front lines, are making progress.

We also are standing strong because we are getting a sense that increasing numbers of White people are sick of other White people's racist conduct. We applaud the fact that from the streets, to corporate board rooms, to charitable giving, White people are taking up the work of equity. We hope we live in a country where most White people do not sympathize with White supremacists. If our perceptions are real, we have an opportunity to accelerate the advancement of equity, and we must seize it. While people of color are going to see this fight for equity through to victory, there is a powerful role that White people must play, and this role can no longer be eschewed for safer, transactional expressions of solidarity.

Show yourselves to be true patriots by joining with people of color, believing in the potency of inclusion, and building from a common bond to stamp out White supremacy and realize the transformative promise of equity – the imperfect and unrealized aspiration embodied in the Constitution. White America, you can perfect this aspiration! To do so requires that you honestly and forthrightly call out racism and oppression, both overt and systemic. And while this is a good start, it is insufficient. Your work is to lead the way in designing and implementing equity-centered public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms that trump White supremacy and create a just and fair society. This must be your call to action. This is what people of color need from you.

The normalization of White supremacy must be stopped now before it irreversibly poisons the nation’s culture. Your leadership is critical in this moment. You are best equipped to defeat White supremacy. Here are actions you can take that are transformative.


Show us that our perceptions of a White majority opposed to White supremacy are real. Show us that we have a reason to believe that you will fight with more devotion to create a society that is just and fair for ALL, than White supremacists will in their pursuit to maintain their structural advantage, their racial privilege, their "whiteness." By accepting this invitation, you’re not doing anyone any favors. You’re doing the work necessary to make America all that it can be. History has its eyes on you. Show us. Fight for equity.

With gratitude,

Angela Glover Blackwell
CEO  

Michael McAfee
President

PolicyLink Applauds Court’s Refusal to Reinstate Ban

The 9th Circuit, affirming the Court's right to review the president's action, refused to reinstate the Administration’s travel ban, thus upholding the nation's commitment to just and fair inclusion, at least for now.  Where you come from, where you live, and how—or if—you worship, may not be a basis for exclusion from the country without due process. Anything less, “runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

Today’s win is a small victory in a battle of immense proportions. Savor small victories, even as we gird ourselves for the next fight.

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